Double Cross

ダブルクロス “Double Cross” (2001) was Shunsaku Yano’s entry in an RPG contest conducted by F.E.A.R. Originally called “Universal Guardian”, it did not win the contest but it would prove more popular than the winner as scores of supplements and two subsequent editions attest.

The game takes place in a world like our own except for the presence of a superpower-inducing virus. The player gets to choose which of nine syndromes are caused by the virus, each with its own sphere of power: angel halo (light), black dog (electricity), bram stoker (blood), chimera (bestial body), exile (shapechanger), hanuman (reflexes), neumann (intelligence), salamandar (heat), or solaris (drugs). The player also chooses one of 46 occupations (mostly adult occupations, though student, even elementary school student, are available). The syndrome and occupation determine the character’s 4 abilities scores: physique, intuition, will, and sociability. HP is a sum of physique and will; initiative is a sum of intuition and will. Whether an action is successful is determined by rolling one or more ten-sided dice and taking the highest, the number of dice determined by one of the character’s 4 ability scores.

Using special abilities conferred by the virus will increase a character’s encroachment rate; if this reaches 100%, the character becomes a germ, which is an NPC monster. However, the character has relationships with three NPCs called Loises (a Superman reference) who help the character stay human. For each Lois a positive and negative emotion experienced by the character is randomly determined. The player chooses one emotion to be conscious and the other to be subconscious. Death of the Lois or rejection by the Lois can trigger more super powers.

Like several other modern Japanese RPGs, Double Cross uses the scene system: instead of an open world for characters to explore, there are only 4 scenes in a scenario that the character can visit, and the game “cuts” between scenes. In the interest of dramatic effect, a character’s powers or encroachment rate may change from scene to scene.

B5 perfect bound softcover, 210 pp.

Comptiq Magazine: November 1986

The first Record of Lodoss War replay was serialized over eight issues of Comptiq magazine. The November 1986 issue contains episode III of the replay, the plot of which is turning out to be quite different from that of the anime.

Previously the party had cleared the dungeon of the crystal guardian and everyone except Slayn the magic user and Deedlit the elf leveled up. Etoh the cleric, now able to cast spells, uses detect magic on the weapons and potions recovered from the dungeon. In a tavern, Parn hears about war between the countries of Valis and Mamo. The party decides to head east where the conflict is. En route on the royal highway, they see flashes from a fireball and a lightning bolt; they hear screams and the clash swords. Arriving at the scene of battle they find only dead and wounded.

Etoh casts cure light wounds on a soldier, who tells the party he was one of four soldiers accompanying a headstrong and disobedient princess, when overcome by a sorceress and her henchmen. He urges the party to rescue the princess. At this point the player playing Etoh supposes the sorceress is Karla, who they learned about last episode. The DM tells the player he is correct even though there is nothing about the in-world situation that justifies such a confirmation.

The party follows the abducted princess to a dilapidated house and rushes in. Slayn puts two of Karla’s henchmen to sleep and Deedlit charms a 3rd. Then Karla comes downstairs and puts everyone in the party to sleep except Etoh, who feigns sleep, ending the episode with a cliffhanger.

B5 perfect bound magazine

WARPS: Wild Adventure Role Playing Game

ワープス “WARPS” (1988) is the creation of Masayuki Onuki, the translator of the Dungeons & Dragons basic set. WARPS presents a generic set of rules intended to be supplemented by additional box sets, nine of which were produced by Tsukuda Hobby. A second edition of the game was announced but never published because of Onuki’s death in 1993 when he was only 28 years old.

WARPS is an initialism for Wild Adventure Role Playing Game. The name recalls GURPS, and like GURPS the game uses a hex grid for combat, but beyond that the games have little in common mechanically. Of greater influence was the James Bond RPG by Victory Games, a translation of which was being sold in Japan and from which the idea of “hero points” are taken. Onuki saw in hero points a way to give game play a dramatic quality like the plots of books and TV.

In WARPS characters have 12 ability scores generated by percentile roles. The game has no classes, but a character can advance to the 100,000th level if 100 billion experience points are earned. Players are free to choose the age of their characters, and this has consequences in terms of ability score bonuses and penalties. Age also determines how many rolls a character can make on a table containing 100 skills, which incidentally tend to be the kind of thing one might learn in college or at a trade school. Hit points start at 3d10 and max out at 10d10.

Characters have a “direct hit” score and an “evasion score”, both which improve with level. When attacking, a character must roll under his direct hit score with 2d6. The defender also rolls 2d6 and compares with his evasion score. If the difference is greater than the attacker’s difference, he evades the attack. Also, both the attacker and defender can incur critical hits or fumbles by rolling a 12 or 2 respectively.

There are 16 heroic actions available to first level characters and hero points can be spent to perform them. There is a heroic action which allows the player to ask a question of the GM, who must answer truthfully. Another heroic action allows a character to sacrifice himself so that the other players can overcome an obstacle.

A short guide to monsters is provided at the back of the rule book. Among the described monsters are wolf, cloud man, “yamata no orochi”, pteranodon, merman, and Loch Ness monster.

Box contents:
• rulebook, B5 pamphlet, 64 pp.
• master screen, 28cm x 59cm
• 30 character sheets, top-tearing B5 pad
• two hex mats, 26cm x 20cm
• dice: 2d10, 2d6

Traveller: High Guard

宇宙海軍 “High Guard” (1985) is the third box set released by Hobby Japan for Traveller. Collecting material from four of the little black books by GDW, this is the set for starship enthusiasts. The translations are by Hitoshi Yasuda and box cover art by Naoyuki Kato.

High Guard expands on the rules for characters who enlist in the navy. There are now three career paths, depending upon whether they enlist with the planetary, subsector, or imperial navies, and the number of skills a character can learn is increased. The rules for starship construction are expanded to cover ships up to a million tons, and the rules for starship combat are expanded to cover additional attacks (energy weapons, particle accelerators, and meson guns) and additional defenses (sandcasters, “black globes”, nuclear dampers, and repulsors). Incidentally, the phrase “high guard” refers to a defensive position adopted when refueling ships, though 宇宙海軍 just means “space navy”.

The Japanese version combines Book 5: High Guard and Supplement 9: Fighting Ships into a single book. The supplement describes 28 ships of the imperial fleet. The original illustrations were by Jaquays, but the JV contains reworked illustrations by Naoyuki Kato. The ships range up to 500,000 tons in size, but none of them have deck plans.

The Kinunir is a translation of GDW’s well-regarded first adventure book. It contains 4 short adventures, all of which can potentially make use of the provided deck plans for a 1200 ton Kinunir class battle cruiser. These include espionage to discover details of the ship’s construction, rescuing a senator from a battle cruiser converted into a prison, and responding to a distress call from a derelict ship. There is a rumor table, and a character with streetwise skill can earn a roll on it by mixing with the local population. A character can also query the library data by typing a search term into a computer. The referee reads off the entry in the library data section if he thinks the query got a result.

Trillion Credit Squadron gives players a budget for constructing fleets and pitting them against each other in battle. The cost for a hull is 100,000 Cr per ton, and the ship designer will need to reserve additional funds for jump drives, maneuver drives, power plant, armaments, and a computer. If the bookkeeping of spending a trillion credits seems overwhelming, the players can play with a billion credit budget.

Box contents:
• “High Guard”, letter-sized perfect bound book, 72 pp.
• “The Kinunir”, letter-sized staple bound book, 36 pp.
• “Trillion Credit Squadron”, letter-sized staple bound book, 32 pp.
• “Starship Construction Charts”, letter-sized, 6 pp.
• “Navy Characters”, letter-sized, 4 pp.
• “Starship Combat Charts”, letter-sized, 4 pp.
• “How to Use High Guard”, letter-sized sheet
• “New and Old Island Star Sectors”, letter-sized sheet

RPG Fantasy Encyclopedia

RPG 幻想辞典 “RPG Fantasy Encyclopedia” (1986) is the first Japanese RPG product to be published in book format and distributed in book stores. It is an introduction to fantasy role playing, written by Arai Hayakawa and published by Softbank Publications, with a complete game in back. The dust cover is translucent—the tower you see in the distance on the cover is actually printed on the book itself.

The 2nd chapter briefly describes Dungeons & Dragons, RuneQuest, and Tunnels & Trolls. At the time only the first had been translated into Japanese. The 3rd chapter recommends Arthurian Romance and “The Lord of the Rings” as background literature for the readers, who are anticipated to be unfamiliar with Western fantasy.

The “Monster Manual” is the 10th and longest chapter. 186 monsters, not counting subtypes, are described and illustrated, though there are no stat blocks. The selection of monsters is close to the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, adding the Broo and Jack-o-Bear from RuneQuest and a creature, armed with sword and whip, called a “Barlog” [sic].

The game is in the 12th and final chapter. Character generation commences by rolling 2d6 five times to determine strength, intelligence, dexterity, constitution, and luck. One chooses a class from fighter, thief, priest, or mage and gets some ability score bonuses and penalties. For combat, one rolls 2d6, adds attacker weapon class, and subtracts defender armor class to see if a hit is made—a 6 or higher is needed—with damage determined by how much one goes over. The thief has three skills: find trap, remove trap, and search. There are lists of equipment and magical items, 30 spells, and stat blocks for 54 monsters. There is even a scenario called “The Red Crown” with 12 rooms, culminating with a minotaur.

A5 perfect bound book with dust cover, 288 pp.